Liz Dunn Chats with Dutch Radio Documentary maker Mooike de Moor about Flyway in Rotterdam at Operadagen
Melbourne’s Festival of Live Art is full of small-scale works for tiny audiences but Tristan Meecham breaks the mould with his spectacular Game Show production.
Game Show is the second work in a trilogy of elaborate performances devised by Tristan Meecham and the Aphids artist collective. The first work in the trilogy, Fun Run, saw Tristan run a marathon on a treadmill in Sydney’s Hyde Park as part of the 2013 Sydney Festival. Fun Run was a public spectacle that attracted sporting groups and a cheer squad in addition tothe festival-going public. Audience participation is an important part of Tristan’s performances, including Game Show.
"Each night 50 contestants from the wider public will compete live on stage for a chance to win a grand showcase of prizes that includes everything that I own," Meecham told ABC Arts during rehearsals for Game Show. "Basically everything that I could find in my house has been taken from my house and transported to the studio."
Meecham’s possessions, including everything from his fridge and its content to his drama school reports, form part of the set, which also includes live video feeds from a steadicam operator and a camera crane that swings high above the stage. To create the grand spectacle of Game Show Meecham and his collaborators have enlisted the help of community groups; Jonathan Welch and The Cho!r perform musical numbers throughout the show, and Melbourne based community dance group The Body Electric provided the colour and movement.
"Tristan is giving away all of his possessions, because what he really wants the audience to answer for themselves is, ‘what do I value in my life and what am I prepared to risk for that," says artistic director of Aphids, Willoh S Weiland.
Over the course of one Game Show performance, the field of 50 contestants is eventually whittled down to one challenger. In the final round that challenger competes against Meecham for a chance to take home selected items from the Game Show prize show case. On the opening night the challenger had selected Meecham’s prized gold jacket from Fun Run.
"A lot of artists involved in live art practice use participation as a way of creating new experiences, we’re using something that is very mainstream […] so that the audience is able to experience it in a much more engaged and active way than a traditional theatre experience," says Meecham.
"There’s nothing like a game show to bring out the desire to win," Weiland adds "what it allows is to see how people will do that at the expense of all else."
Game Show is part of Melbourne’s Festival of Live Art and runs until Saturday the 22 March at Arts House, Meat Market in North Melbourne.
The Festival of Live Art runs from March 14 - 30, 2014.
For more information:
Game Show at the 2014 Festival of Live Art
Aphids artist collective - Game Show
Welcome to the Drive-In Project.
Listen to the Podcast we created to be played at the Drive-In. Exclusive interviews with the stars of Finale, The Dromana-Drive In, Jared Davies and many many more………
I am very excited that Zonk Vision are on board producing new content for the VIDEO SHORTS program, which will take the form of a (somewhat twisted) video countdown program à la Rage or Video Hits.
Zonk Vision is an audio visual collective of Australian based skateboarders, visual artists and musicians.
They take a light hearted and absurd approach to their work, which is often collaborative and interactive. Embracing process and experimentation, most of their work is raw, gritty and unpolished.
Having curated many live performances and immersive audio visual environments nationally since 2009, Zonk Vision originally formed as a collective of 3 artists based in Melbourne, but now span across most of Australia’s capital cities with a group over over 10 people.
Without giving too much away, here are some production stills taken from the filming for the program.
Sneak Peak! Zonk vision for The Drive-In Project.
Aphids Drive-In Project
Through Zonk Vision, I am creating a series of segways or intervals for a video art program being curated for an event organised by “artist-led cultural organisation” Aphids. The event is happening at a drive-in movie theatre in Dromana out in the Mornington Peninsula. The intervals will act as introductions and loosely tie all of the films together.
Above are some screen grabs of the first day of filming.
More info about the project can be found here - http://aphidslab.tumblr.com/
Blog post 1 - the 50th Anniversary of Dromana Drive-In - March 2013
Firstly an introduction, Jared Davis here, I’ve come on board to work with the Aphids team in curating a pre-feature video art program for the upcoming FINALE event at the Dromana Drive-In.
With production underway for the event in February I have taken some time to reflect on my first trip to the Dromana Drive-In, last year in March, for the Drive-In’s 50th anniversary event. The event was more than just a screening: it was one great big performance that involved music, rides, hot rods, fancy dress, theatricality and as audience members we were just as much implicated as performers. There certainly was something anachronistic in the experience; we had arrived in a particularly timeless and temporary space, one that was rightly cherished and celebrated by the local community. Below are an assortment of images from the day, hopefully giving you a sense for yourselves, and setting the scene for the slightly time-warped mood with which I have approached curating the video program.
FINALE WEEK 2
The last ‘cut’ is about to be called on the set of Finale, but not before we update you. Despite working long days, the last two weeks have been filled with excitement and joy, yesterday culminated in 140 community members joining us at the Dromana Drive In for a wonderful day of filming.
Before that, the team travelled all around the Peninsula (and we mean ALL around the Peninsula) filming community group performances. Last week we started at the Dromana Senior Citizens’ Club working with the Marching Ladies. Each Thursday, this inspiring group meets to practice complex routines that are performed throughout the year. Working with these ladies was inspiring and we were so impressed with their joy, professionalism and amazing costumes.
We also travelled to Kunyung Primary School and filmed students dressed as Penguins, Blues Brothers and Oompa Lumpas at different locations including the beautiful Earimil Gardens, Boys on Seats Hairdressers and Kunyung Primary School. Next up, we rushed over to the Frankston Music Society rehearsal hall and captured the group tuning up. The final scene of the week involved Astral Theatre Society who walked across the Rosebud foreshore carrying cups of coffee.
In the film we will see all of these groups leave their gatherings places and walk to the Dromana Drive In. Each group carries presents (mirrors, hair comb, black and white lollies) that are placed on Evan’s stage in front of Drive In Screen.
Our big filming day this week involved ALL the community groups arriving at the Drive In to encourage Evan Knoble onto the stage to sing. On this big day, we were also joined by members from the Morington Wanderers and Two Bays Motorcycle club who all drive in on their bikes! It was an exhausting but very rewarding day with all the team working very hard to ensure the community groups were enjoying themselves, fed, ready and prepared for each new take. Fingers crossed that we got all we need for the edit!
There are so many people that we need to thank for making this happen and we look forward to celebrating with everyone when we screen the film next year at the Dromana Drive In on February 1st. Put it in your diaries and start car pooling as it will be a night to remember at the movies.
FIRST DAY OF FINALE.
Our first day of filming has commenced on the short film ‘FINALE’. Today, we find our stars Evan and Paddy Knoble, Cinematographer Andy Lane, Production Manager Tom Webster and Production Assistant Alix Parsons join Willoh, Liz and Tristan on location at Flinders Cove Motel. While keeping to our film schedule, we thought it important to provide you with an update.
Our short film FINALE will be a sombre and surreal celebration of one man’s journey to realise his life long dream of starring in his own musical on the big screen. Our film is inspired in part by the true stories of Evan Knoble, who has already worked with Aphids as a performer on the FEVER BEACH project.
Evan’s true love is community theatre. Currently he is the Vice President of community theatre group the Rosebud Astral Theatre Society where he has directed many Musicals and Dramas, most recently working as the production designer for “The Wizard of Oz”. Evan has also appeared on Stingers, Halifax FP, Blue Heelers, Underbelly, Marshalls Law and City Homicide.
Over the next two weeks, we will be busy filming Evan as he travels from his hotel room to the Dromana Drive In. Along the way, local community groups join Evan at the Dromana Drive In for his grand ‘Finale’.
Last week Willoh and Tristan spent time meeting and rehearsing the community groups, which include the amazing ladies at the Dromana Senior Citizen’s Marching Club, Astral Theatre Society, several groups from the Kunyung Primary School and Frankston Community Orchestra. Liz has been busy sourcing props and costume design for the shoot and ensuring everything looks amazing.
The film will be launched next year at the Dromana Drive In on the first of February in which you will all be invited to attend the première screening of the film. We look forward to providing you with more updates over the next two weeks, where you will get to meet the amazing communities that we will be working with on this film.
I presented a 20 minute talk on The Family Show, which is not a finished work but allowed me to explore some of the ideas in a critical context.
I was quite nervous before the talk, perhaps not knowing what this rather academic crowd would make of it. But the response was positive and the discussion generated afterwards was lively. Something I hadn’t considered for a while was that there is still a deep undercurrent of weirdness associated with these online families and that the children are still vulnerable. I don’t feel afraid of these ideas, but I need to be aware that they are volatile as I move forward to creating this work.
The other interesting point that caused conversation was about representation or re-appropriation, I do feel uncomfortable with the idea of taking these family’s material to present a comical or cynical piece of reportage. So the question is how important is it that I contact the family and have them in the show?
SEAM has been an important opportunity to test ideas out, it made me realise where the heat is in the research and where there is still much work to do.
I sat on a panel with Shruti Ghosh and Sumugan Sivanesan, both artists and researchers. Their talks both outlined individuals who had strived and struggled to be heard in societies that treated them as outcasts. Shruti talked about an Indian actress from North Bengal, Binodini Dasi who lived and worked in the mid 19th century. Sumugan talked about a Tamil asylum seeker called ‘Alex’ who had tried to reach Australia during the Sri Lankan civil war. The link between our three talks seemed to be about mediated representation of these relatively ordinary people.
On Friday night I saw David Pledger deliver an excoriating keynote talk on the plight of the artist in neo-liberal economies. The ideas were cogent, compelling and crushing. It is outlined here and you can buy the paper here.
The challenge laid down by David was clear, we need to reclaim our process and output as artists and not be dictated to by funders. We need to also be leaders inside our own community and be solid citizens in the world, not allow ourselves to get marginalised.
His talk was frightening and a call to arms.
During the afternoon there were some performances and talks;
A beautiful slow meditation on the extensions of the body by James Cunningham (see photos) called Antennae.
A great talk by Julian Knowles and Donna Hewitt about authorship in mediatised performance practices.
And a Berlin based group of artists and scientists showing a section of a work called Coded (see photo).
The second day included some great presentations by;
Matthew Day and Nathan Grey, Tanya Voges and Sean McLeod all of who challenged the notion of audience.
Overall a very dense couple of days, but very rewarding.
DRIVE IN PROJECT – Dromana Development
Liz Dunn on Aphids’ recent Drive In Project development residency at Dromana on the Mornington Peninsula.
Over two pretty wild weeks of torrential rain and maniacal winds, interspersed with small bursts of extreme sunshine, Willoh, Lara, Tristan and I were based in a delightful brick and beige low-set house in the suburbs of Dromana to work on the creation of a new collaborative project. The work has evolved out of the Atelier Edens Wilderness Lab, where Aphids developed an AR app for Point Nepean National Park based on short videos made to star Peninsula locals. We are all severely excited about the extended version of this work, The Drive In Project, where we are creating a short film, shot on location in Dromana and the surrounding area, that stars a cast of locals from several community groups – including kids, seniors, surf life savers, bikies and a small dog.
Our development involved: location scouting around the back blocks, highways, eighties motels and the Dromana Drive In itself; devising a live art event around the film’s launch at the Drive In for February 2014; workshops with locals and; of course, writing a script.
For this work the script is being developed progressively in relation to the people we meet and the performative potential they present. So with a loose starting point of a treatment we are casting and letting our interactions with locals develop the direction of the work.
Casting – a sample
Dromana Senior Citizens Marching girls
We are a little early and have to wait outside until the indoor bowls has finished. After a swift reset, we watch a team of ten women performing a nimble and pretty bloody complicated routine of syncronised marching to “Before the Parade Passes By”. We were smitten and after a tea, a biscuit, a chat and a show and tell of photos of performances past, the team agree to a role on the big screen. We are stoked.
Kunyung Primary School
Having recently presented an entire-school devised musical work about the Drive-In themselves, the eight young performers and their teacher Lynne definitely know some stuff and have amassed some totally impressive skills – including tightly choreographed body percussion routines that they can perform with their eyes closed. Eight of them have come into school on their holidays to do a workshop with us. They diligently and beautifully do the odd tasks we set up for them like a durational, sincere and somber delivery of ‘whatever you find around the room’ to form a shrine at the feet of ‘God of the Juke Box in the corner’. Rehearsals end with Aphids artists and the kids collectively performing a procession with total shrine-style commitment and the conviction of total pros. This is very exciting for us and the kids seem excited too, so we are again stoked.
Astral Theatre Society – a few good men
After meeting a few days earlier at Evan’s place (where we also met Patty, Evan’s dog and star Toto in Astral’s recent production of Wizard of Oz), Peter, Eric and Evan have agreed to come over to our brick and beige low-set for a group workshop. All local men in their senior years, and all skilled as performers, our kitchen becomes a temporary stage for variously styled tea-making scenes, stirring renditions of classic musical numbers and screen-based close-up exercises. All the guys are brilliant and the whole thing feels like some excellent reimaging of a suburban-Australian Faulty Towerseque show being directed by Ray Lawrence. It’s very entertaining and impressive.
They all agree to appear in the work and Evan also agrees to take on a lead. He is the Astral VP, a retired psychologist, ex-motorcyclist and lifelong musicals lover and will play an obtuse version of himself in our Aphids film, now entitled FINALE.
Evan tells us he’s stoked.
Paul, the owner/manager at the Drive In agrees to show us our test footage on the big screen before the night’s regular program. So, after some classic burgers and chips in Shelley’s diner, as the sun drops behind the gums and the light fades from the sky, we see the field light up with Evan’s face, in all its enormous, high-def glory as he mouths the Phantom of the Opera classic, ‘The Music of the Night’ to a backdrop of fireworks. I see a tear form in Willoh’s eye. I’m filming so I retain composure, just.
But, safe to say, we are again very, very…stoked.